Art & Entertainment

Director Ruchi Narain Calls 'Karmma Calling' A Guilty Pleasure, Reveals How She Got Raveena Tandon On Board

'Karmma Calling' released on January 26 on Disney+ Hotstar, and features reigning queen of Alibaug, Indrani Kothari, played by Raveena Tandon. 

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Ruchi Narain and Raveena Tandon
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The director of 'Karmma Calling' Ruchi Narain, known for the Netflix original film ‘Guilty’, is now back with another OTT project. The guilty pleasure series released on January 26 on Disney+ Hotstar, and features reigning queen of Alibaug, Indrani Kothari (Raveena Tandon), who is ready to take on Karma Talwar (Namrata Sheth). It has been adapted from Mike Kelley's ‘Revenge’.

As the show has finally started streaming, Ruchi Narain, in an exclusive chat with Outlook India, got candid about crafting Indrani Kothari’s character, getting Raveena on board and more. Excerpts from the interview:

‘Karmma Calling’ is based on the popular 2011 American series ‘Revenge’. Tell us how did you contextualise the show?

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When I saw ‘Revenge’, I just loved it and it really got to me. One of the things I thought at that time was that this is the show that we need to make in India. It had everything that I felt the Indian audience would be looking for. So, at that time, I started working on the Indian adaptation of it. But we could not get the rights. But as ‘Karmma’ would have it, the rights holders and the people that I pitched to merged, and they became internal and that’s how I got the rights and we gotta make it. The main thing that appealed to me and would work for the audience too was that in India, we are used to seeing some people having a lot and way more than everyone else. Within the plot, you get a peep on what we only see in photographs but we don’t see what’s happening behind the doors, the gossip and the conjectures of them staying where they are. You do need something to retain all that and what is the difference is what intrigued me. The other thing was the show felt empowering in terms of the person who is trying to get revenge. Normally, any David in Goaliath's story always had a hard time, which is not the case with ‘Karmma Calling’. The complexities of good and bad is what would appeal to most Indians.

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How did you come up with the character of Indrani Kothari, played by Raveena Tandon?

In ABC’s ‘Revenge’, the lead character is a socialite but of course, very glamorous but the show is 12 years old. So, I wanted to make the character relatable to the Indian audience. Secondly, we are now in 2024. So, I thought of making her someone who had worked very hard, naturally gifted with beauty but someone with inner conviction in herself, which gives her power. She knows what she wants and how to get it, and also has the guts to do it. Let her have been a 90s Bollywood actor, who ended up marrying a scion and now she gets her power because of the position. 

Raveena Tandon said she was offered to her a decade ago but had to decline it due to personal reasons. Why was Raveena picked again after so many years for the lead role?

At the time, 10 years ago, I needed someone who had that glamorous appearance but also had inner power and conviction, and Raveena could not do it because she had young children. And 10 years later, I think she looks better. We’ve also been friends, so when we got the rights, I went back to her and she said yes. I really don’t think anyone else would do it better, not only in terms of looks but also family terms, and exude that. Raveena has that fluidity. 

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How do you think ‘Karmma Calling’ would stand out?

Honestly, I feel it is plot-driven and it has a good pace. There are characters which have so many layers, and I don’t think I have seen such a show, in terms of how many things are happening. Add to it, it is set in such a glamorous world. So together, it is a guilty pleasure. 

Do you feel that finally it’s a great time for female filmmakers in the Hindi film industry now?

My answer is always yes because it keeps getting better. Is it the best time? Well, not yet. It needs to get better but yes, it is a great time. It has a lot to do with OTT so that female filmmakers are getting a platform literally to showcase their work. 

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Produced by R.A.T films, adapted for India and directed by Ruchi Narain, the series is helmed by Raveena Tandon, Namrata Sheth, Varun Sood along with Gaurav Sharma, Waluscha D’souza, Amy Aela, Viraf Patel, Piyush Khati in pivotal roles.

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